November 30, 2011
VIDEO: Can Carolina go back-to-back?
Reporter Joe Person talks about the Panthers, who are ready to visit Tampa Bay, looking for first back-to-back wins since 2009.
Cam Newton: Ronde Barber old, but smart
Cam Newton was at dinner Tuesday night when a young boy shyly approached his table.
After Newton put the boy at ease, the visitor had a question for Newton.
“He's like, man, Cam, why you throw so many interceptions?” Newton said Wednesday.
Newton is tied for third in the NFL with 14 interceptions – behind Philip Rivers (17) and Josh Freeman (16), whose Bucs play host to Carolina this weekend.
Tampa Bay (4-7) has lost six of their last seven games, and have one of the league's worst defenses.
But Newton said the Bucs' secondary, led by 36-year-old safety Ronde Barber, will present a challenge.
He said when most defenses play man coverage, the cornerbacks play off. Not Tampa's.
“They press you. They're basically saying our guys are better than your guys,” Newton said. “But the one thing I see about Barber is he might be old, but my man is playing with the best of them and he's smart. He's going to outsmart you. He watches film. It's evident watching him play. If he gets beat, he's going to beat you to the point to where you want to go.
“They're going to get in your face. It's going to be a physical game, a conference game and we've got to make the most of it.”
Newton needs two rushing touchdowns to tie Steve Grogan's NFL record of 12 among quarterbacks. Newton, who was born 13 years after Grogan set the mark, said he was not familiar with the former Patriots quarterback.
“Back in the '70s,” Newton said. “No, I don't (know him). Don't know anything about him.”
Newton is tied with Jonathan Stewart for most rushing touchdowns by a Panthers' rookie.
November 28, 2011
Ron Rivera looking for a win streak
Having won their first road game in two years, the Panthers next will try to take another baby step in the rebuilding process with their first winning streak since 2009.
The Panthers have not won back-to-back games since finishing the '09 season by winning three in a row against Minnesota, the Giants and New Orleans.
Sunday's 27-19 win at Indianapolis improved the Panthers to 3-8 – one more victory than they managed in 2010 during John Fox's final season.
Next up for the Panthers: A trip to struggling Tampa Bay (4-7), which has just a one-game edge over the Panthers for third place in the NFC South. The Panthers face the Bucs twice in a four-week stretch, and could escape the cellar by beating them.
But first-year coach Ron Rivera said he's more concerned with winning two in a row, and is not worried about the standings.
“That would be great for us as a team that's building. I think it would really help us with our confidence on the road,” Rivera said. “And it would help us in terms of our outlook.”
The Panthers haven't won consecutive road games since beating Tampa Bay and Arizona in 2009.
November 27, 2011
Victory at Indy was critical for Panthers
Panthers offensive guard Geoff Hangartner was talking Sunday afternoon about how good it feels to win a game in the NFL, regardless of how pretty it may have been.
Considering the Panthers' 27-19 victory over winless Indianapolis may have lacked a measure of artistry, it still had the desired effect for a team that has won just five of its last 27 games.
"There's nothing like winning in this league," Hangartner said.
It's the walk before you run theory. The Panthers are still learning to walk.
Sometimes they can sprint. They just can't sustain it.
There are moments, such as DeAngelo Williams' 25-yard touchdown run, or Cam Newton whistling a 24-yard fourth-quarter reception to Jeremy Shockey or both end-zone interceptions by Chris Gamble and Sharrod Martin when the Panthers are brilliant.
There are other moments, though, when the defense can't get off the field or the offense can't sustain a drive or a somebody gets called for an illegal block on the rare long punt return. It's the nature of who the Panthers are at this moment.
There's no question the Panthers needed the win at Indianapolis in the worst way. Losing to a winless Colts team would have doused much of the enthusiasm fans have for the stretch run in the first year of the Ron Rivera regime. It wasn't as easy as it might have been but the Panthers got it done in the stadium Peyton Manning built.
It snapped a 12-game road losing streak and points the Panthers toward a visit to Tampa Bay next Sunday for a game they should have a reasonable chance of winning. Before turning their attention to the Bucs, though, the Panthers have reason to enjoy the one they got in Indianapolis.
-- Ron Green Jr.
Panthers 17, Colts 13, end of 3rd quarter
Attempting to a 12-game road losing streak, the Panthers are 15 minutes away for a victory, leading Indianapolis 17-13 entering the fourth quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium.
After being tied 10-10 at halftime, the Panthers forced the Colts into a three-and-out series on their first possession of the second half then methodically marched 64 yards for a touchdown and a 17-10 lead with 9:13 left in the third quarter.
DeAngelo Williams scored the touchdown, slipping around the left side of the Panthers' offensive line and motoring 25 yards for the score.
Twice in the drive, the Panthers converted on third down. Cam Newton completed a 13-yard pass to Greg Olsen for the first conversion then Newton scrambled 12 yards on third-and-one to set up Williams' touchdown run.
Trying to build on their lead, the Panthers hurt themselves when tight end Jeremy Shockey lost a fumble after catching a pass. Indianapolis defensive back Jacob Lacey knocked the ball loose and had a short return to the Indianapolis 39-yard line.
The Colts then moved downfield, connecting on a 40-yard pass from Curtis Painter to Reggie Wayne to the Panthers 13-yard line. It led to a 31-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal with 32 seconds left in the third quarter.
-- Ron Green Jr.
Halftime blog: Panthers 10, Colts 10
The Colts battled back from a 10-point deficit to tie the Panthers at 10-all at halftime at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Panthers had a chance to take a lead into the locker room, but Jamaal Anderson blocked Olindo Mare's 45-yard field goal attempt as time expired in the first half.
After being held to 1 yard of offense in the first quarter, the Colts rallied for 80 in the second quarter.
Cam Newton sliced in for a 14-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers up 10-0 with 14:03 left in the second quarter. It was Newton's 10th rushing touchdown of the season, putting him only two behind Steve Grogan for the NFL record for rushing scores among quarterbacks.
The Colts answered with a four-play touchdown drive on the ensuing possession. Curtis Painter opened the drive with a 14-yard pass to Reggie Wayne for the Colts' first first down.
Three plays later, Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn interfered with Wayne on third-and-3 – a 42-yard penalty that gave the Colts a first down at the Panthers' 17.
Donald Brown went around right end for a 17-yard touchdown on the next play, pulling the Colts to 10-7.
Adam Vinatieri's 43-yard field goal made it 10-all.
First quarter blog: Panthers 3, Colts 0
The Panthers took a 3-0 lead vs. the Colts today on a 40-yard field goal by Olindo Mare at the 4:07 mark of the first quarter. Carolina converted two third-down conversions on the 10-play, 33-yard drive – one on a scramble by Cam Newton and another on a Newton-to-Brandon LaFell pass.
But Newton was stopped short when he tried to scramble on third-and-10 at the Colts' 27-yard line. Former Panthers defensive end Tyler Brayton stopped Newton after a 5-yard gain, forcing the Mare field goal.
The Colts, the NFL's 30th-ranked offense, did not have a first down in the quarter, and finished the quarter with 1 yard of offense.
The Panthers had six first downs and 103 yards of total offense.
Panthers inactives at Indy
Linebacker Jordan Senn will make his second consecutive start today, filling in for the injured Omar Gaither at the weakside spot.
Linebackers Gaither (knee) and Jason Phillips (calf), neither of whom made the trip to Indy, are among the Panthers' seven inactives for today's game against the Colts.
The others: QB Jimmy Clausen, CB Brandon Hogan, OL Lee Ziemba, WR Darvin Adams and DT Frank Kearse.
Adams was signed from the practice squad Friday after the Panthers released FB Jerome Felton.
WR Legedu Naanee, who has been bothered by Achilles tendinitis, is active. But No. 3 WR Brandon LaFell is expected to get increased reps today.
The Colts inactives are: QB Peyton Manning (who for some reason has remained on the active roster all season), TE Dallas Clark, OL Joe Reitz, TE Brody Eldridge, DT Drake Nevis and DE Mario Addison.
The Colts released LB Adrian Moten; as a result, they only had to make six players inactive.
November 26, 2011
Omar Gaither out vs. Colts
Another Panthers linebacker is missing another game due to injury.
Let's hope the team's linebackers didn't all eat the fish on the charter flight ("Airplane" reference, kids, Google it).
Weakside linebacker Omar Gaither, who reinjured his knee last week at Detroit, did not make the trip to Indy today and will miss Sunday's game against the Colts. Jordan Senn will start for Gaither.
Backup LB Jason Phillips (calf) also stayed in Charlotte. Phillips has not played since the bye week.
No. 2 WR Legedu Naanee (Achilles tendinitis) is here, but remains questionable.
TE Jeremy Shockey (ribs) was added to the injury report as probable. Shockey, who missed the Detroit game, was full participation at practice all week and is expected to play.
November 25, 2011
Munnerlyn fined for message on cleats
Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said this week he was fined $5,000 for having too much blue in his cleats. But a league spokesman said today the fine was for displaying a personal message written on the shoes.
Munnerlyn said he planned to appeal the fine. Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart said he was fined for a shoes infraction earlier this season, but had the fine reduced on appeal.
Special teams player Josh Vaughan was fined $7,500 for his horse collar tackle at the end of Lions punt returner Stefan Logan's 16-yard run-back in the third quarter. Vaughan said earlier this week he hoped he wouldn't be fined, but thought Logan would have scored had he not tackled him.
Detroit DE Cliff Avril was not fined for his horse-collar tackle on DeAngelo Williams' 32-yard, fourth-quarter reception. Avril was penalized on the play, although Panthers coach Ron Rivera said it was hard to tell whether Avril had grabbed Williams' collar or his dreadlocks.
“It's tough to say because of those long, flowing locks that you see,” Rivera said. “The way DeAngelo went down you would assume it was a horse collar.”